Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Donald Miller On Charity (Love)

Steve McCoy has a great snippet from a recent interview with Donald Miller, talking about how the church tends to use love as a commodity:

We sometimes take a Darwinian approach with loveā€”if we are against somebody's ideas, we starve them out. If we disagree with somebody's political ideas, or sexual identity, we just don't "pay" them. We refuse to "condone the behavior" by offering any love.

This approach has created a Christian culture that is completely unaware what the greater culture thinks of us. We don't interact with people who don't validate our ideas. There is nothing revolutionary here. This mindset is hardly a breath of fresh air to a world that uses the exact same kinds of techniques.

Miller is precisely right here, and his critique not only applies to evangelical Christians in general, it applies to our theologians and leaders in particular - we place a great emphasis / confidence in "getting it right," and then we place a great burden / pressure on others to agree with us about it. If they do, we reward them lavishly - they are our friends, the good guys, they are in. But if they don't, they are the enemy, the bad guys, they are out. As a result, not only do we not know what others think of us, but we don't care either.

I see a lot of these same attitudes at work in the recent responses to Presbyterians & Presbyterians Together and it concerns me deeply - it sees "charity" as a gag; it fails to remember that "love" was the way Christ reached out to us in the first place, even while we were still enemies...

If I want to convince someone who disagrees with me, I need to start by understanding him on his own terms, by seeing what I look like in his eyes, and by loving him for his own sake, whether or not he ever comes into my camp or agrees with my position. In short, I need identify with him. I need to love him the way Christ does, the way Christ loves me. And if I truly love someone well, it will change the way I disagree with him.

At the end of the day, I having this nagging suspicion that the reason so many people are against charity is that they don't really know what it means to love...


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